Tuesday, May 11, 2010

This Week on Foot

In Southern California, the week has been full of debate over sidewalks. Angelenos are up in arms because
L.A. may stop footing bills for sidewalk and driveway repairs The City took over sidewalk repairs in the 1970s when it received a hunk of federal money for sidewalk fixes. The money has long since run out, and now the City is hoping to help balance its ailing budget by asking property owners to pay at least a portion of sidewalk repair costs (a common practice in other cities). Not surprisingly, property owners aren't jumping up and down with joy over the proposed change.

Further north, it's No block party in San Francisco, where the City is considering an ordinance to forbid sitting and lying on city sidewalks. Aimed at curbing agressive panhandling in some city neighborhoods, the proposed regulations have led to intense debate among San Franciscans. Some believe that the proposal flies in the face of other city policies that encourage the use of sidewalks as public gathering places, while others point out that law enforcement officers need better tools to deal with panhandlers whose "assaultive" behavior is hurting local businesses.

On the other side of the world, pedestrians in India are also struggling over the issue of sidewalks--or lack thereof. Pune's 55% walkers have minimum facilities on road, and in response the Centre for Science and the Environment has proposed improvements to pedestrian facilities as part of a Comprehensive Transport Policy for the Indian city.

Back in the US, City planners track cyclists, pedestrians to measure trail needs as part of the National Bicycle and Pedestrian Documentation Project. Counts will take place this fall in 150 cities across the country. Perhaps we'll finally get some decent pedestrian counts out of the work.

In the meantime, we can ponder this question from the Smart Planet blog: Are cul-de-sacs to blame for stifling urban communities? According to one study cited in the article, they are at least to blame for a significant (26 percent) increase in vehicle trips, compared to neighborhoods with better street connectivity.

And on a final, ominous, note: 'Lord Jesus Christ' struck by car in Northampton. You know it's rough out there for pedestrians when God can't cross the street without incident.

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